We test ride the FB Mondial HPS 300, the new kid on the block that is making quite a splash thanks to its unique hipster-inspired styling.
Story: Sarmad Kadiri
Photography: Saurabh Botre
One that would perfectly play a fashionable prop in a fashion brand commercial. From what we’ve noticed during our test review photo shoot, the FB Mondial is quite a head-turner.
FB Mondial is an Italian motorcycle brand which was founded in 1929 in Milan and boasts of a rich racing heritage in the early 1950s and ’60s. During that era, they were known to produce advanced racing motorcycles and had also won the Isle of Man TT a couple of times. But times changed as the company struggled and things came to a halt in 1979 when FB Mondial had to wrap up the business completely. After a failed attempt to resurrect the brand in 1999, the company was brought back to life yet again in 2014. But this time the focus is on smaller-capacity niche motorcycles. The HPS 300 is a fine example of that.
The Italian marque has been brought to our shores by the Kinetic Group. So, you’ll spot this lesser-known motorcycle brand on display in the multi-brand Motoroyale showrooms along with more recognizable ones like MV Augusta, Norton, and Hyosung. During a chat, Ajinkya Firodia, Managing Director, Motoroyale, disclosed that the HPS 300 is their “mass market” product for which they have begun local assembly at the company’s Ahmednagar plant.
If you look at the specifications, it does seem to be liveable with. But things begin to seem skewed when you bring into the picture its hefty price tag of Rs 3.37 lakh (ex-showroom, India). In addition, most of the parts come from China and the “HPS 300” is actually a 249-cc single. With other aggressively priced models such as the KTM motorcycles and the new Royal Enfield Twins in the market, does the HPS stand a chance? This is precisely why we’re giving this Italian model a complete Bike India test.
When parked, the FB Mondial does grab quite a few eyeballs with its unusual scrambler-meets-café-racer styling. The old-school oval headlamps, single-pod circular instrument cluster, and a fuel-tank with deep knee recesses make it quite a head-turner. Adding to the appeal are the raked out upside-down fork, wire-spoke wheels, and chunky off-road type tyres. The tyres are from a Chinese brand called CST, the front is a large 18-inch and a small 17-inch at the rear, to complete the scrambler form.
The highlight is the scrambler-type, side-mounted twin exhaust which is pretty high and close to the seat. The compact café-racer-like seat is practically where the tail section ends, creating a compact design. A tyre-hugger on the rear wheel and a tiny front fender are all you get to protect yourself (and the bike) from splashes of water and dirt.
The two things that appear the least attractive are the single-cylinder engine, which looks rather puny on the bike, and the crude looking registration plate on the front fender. The hipster is a mixed-bag design, which will have divided opinions — you either love it or simply don’t. What makes the bike stand out is the interesting details like the octagonal elements on the fuel-tank, chrome heat shield on the exhaust, beautifully embossed rubber grips, and the bar-end mounted rear-view mirrors.